KAMWENGE: Despite the interventions by several organisations to help the refugees at Rwamwanja Refugee Camp in Nkoma Sub County Kamwenge district, Uganda, much is still needed to help improve the situation at the camp.
Several organisations including, World Vision, Baylor Uganda, the International Red Cross Committee, Save the Children, African Humanitarian Action among others have contributed towards the wellbeing of the refugees but they still need more support.
On Tuesday World Vision delivered non food items to the refugees but due to overwhelming numbers only a few will get these items but the majority will be left out.
The assistant district health officer Kamwenge, Ms Winfred Rurangaranga expressed concern over the in adequate health services and water and sanitation at the camp and at Rwamwanja Health Centre III which has been strained by the coming of the refugees.
“Understaffing and water situation is very big problem; it is very difficult to prevent infections when we don’t have water. Even when we deliver babies we have no water to wash hands and containing infections is not easy” Rurangaranga said.
She also revealed that the health centre is too small to contain the numbers of refugees and serve the local population.
“Before the refugees came the space was small, now it has worsened because we even have admissions. We need more buildings and more staff to save the situation,” Rurangaranga said.
David Mugenyi, commander of the camp, noted that the camp has 18,307 refugees who have been supported but still need more support in areas of health, water and sanitation, community service and infrastructure.
“This is a timely support from World Vision as we have been experiencing a lot of gaps in areas of health, water and sanitation, community services and infrastructure. We are appealing for more support,” he said.
He also noted that since the refugees started settling in the camp in April the situation has changed as the refugees have started life cultivating and planting crops.
“The situation has improved, they have now started farming and I think in the next few months with support from donors they will be ok,” Mugenyi said.
Mugenyi asked the residents of Rwamwanja to cooperate with the refugees as this is an opportunity that will boost their businesses.
The World Vision Integrated Ministry Director, Lawrence Tiyoy revealed that based on the fact that most of the refugees are women and children, World Vision has come up with aid mostly directed to them.
“A very big number of them are women and children; we are interested in putting in place child friendly facilities and also focusing on pregnant mothers” Tiyoy said.
“Today we have handed items worth shs 823 million which include blankets, mosquito nets, sanitary pads, sweaters for children among other items. But we want to partner with United Nations High Commission for Refugees to see that children are protected” he added.
The Resident District Commissioner Kamwenge Eriya Amos Mujunju tasked government to establish vocational centers for the youth and schools for children
“There’s need to establish schools for these young children and also vocational centres for the medium aged youth, so that they don’t become lousy to cause trouble here” Mujungu said.
Mujungu appealed to government not to ignore the demands of the indigenous people who were trapped inside the camp but also be catered for.
“This is a very crucial issue there are those who have been here since 1930’s, we are appealing to government to look into these families and see what to do for them”
The influx of refugees in Uganda has been triggered by the insurgency in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, where many people have been displaced.
The asylum seekers arrive into Uganda with hardly anything on them. Most of them enter Uganda through Nyakabande transition centre in Kisoro district.
They stay there as they make up their mind-whether to go back to Congo or stay, but most of them stay. Those who choose to stay are cared for mainly by WFP and UNHCR.
There’s fear that if the situation does not normalize in DRC over 30,000 refugees will come to the camp. Between 1000 and 2000 refugees are received at the camp every week Rwamwanja refugee camp occupies a space of 41.9 square kilometres.
The first group of refugees was settled at the Camp in May this year after a long confrontation between the locals and government which left a camp commandant dead
Water supply and latrine outreach is still low compared to the numbers of refugees present; several refugees would be seen in long queues at water points with in the camp.